According to new study findings from researchers at San Francisco State University, new policies that eliminate sugary beverages and junk foods from schools may help slow childhood obesity.
While many schools districts across Canada and the U.S. have been taking steps to eliminate junk foods from schools, few studies have documented the long terms effects of such efforts.
Between 2003 and 2005, California implemented statewide legislation to eliminate sodas and other highly sweetened beverages and restrict the sale of junk foods in all public schools. To study the effects, researchers used eight years of body mass index (BMI) data from fifth and seventh grade students. Researchers compared BMI trends in the years preceding the enactment of the legislation with the years following the legislation.
The data shows that before the policies took effect, the rate of overweight students was increasing among all groups in the study (girls and boys in fifth and seventh grades). The findings, published in the journal Health Affairs, report that in the three-year period after the policies became effective, the increase in the number of overweight children was significantly reduced among fifth-grade boys and seventh-grade students of both sexes throughout California. However, the pre- and post-policy trends in overweight were not significantly different among fifth-grade girls.
Here in Canada similar steps are being taken to limit junk food in schools in attempt to halt rising rates of childhood obesity. For instance, as of September 2011 all Ontario public schools will no longer sell unhealthy food, including pop, fries, chocolate, energy drinks and candy.
For more information on nutrition during adolescence check out Leslie Beck’s Healthy Eating for Preteens and Teens.
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